What is the Minimum Landlord Obligation?
We get asked this a lot from non-clients. But in a way that’s exasperated, so landlords must be either tired of paying for something that’s ‘nice to have’ or just plain want the low-down.
We are happy to help and provide this basic, pared-down list but with a caveat. Bottom line, there ARE actually quite a lot of responsibilities, obligations, and duties for being a private landlord. So much so, that some mistakes will be very expensive monetarily and your reputation will be at stake, as some breaches could lead you to jail time. We will be putting together a list of Expensive Mistakes and share with you shortly.
In the meantime, what is the fundamnetal fear behind this question? Arguably, one of the scariest aspect of letting is having problem tenants and not being able to evict, ie, to serve a Section 21. In order to have the right to serve this notice, you must provide the following five documents prior to or at the time of letting:
1. Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
You will not be able to even market without this certificate. You can find this by going to the public EPC Register and search by clicking on ‘Retrieve Report Using Property Address’. This is a free service from the DCLG.
EPC lasts for 10 years and should cost £50.00 to £65.00+VAT if you need one.
2. Gas Safety Certificate
This is an annual requirement for Landlords, if there is a gas installation. Technically, you are not even allowed to check-in a new tenant into a property without a valid record.
Make sure that the engineer is qualified to carry out the work by searching them on the Gas Safe Register. Don’t assume that your usual sparky or builder will be registered. Their certification may have expired.
This certificate should cost around £65.00+VAT.
3. How To Rent Guide
I’ve heard people say this is pointless but it’s actually a useful document for both Landlords and Tenants, published by the DCLG. Serving this as a link or a printed copy is a relatively new requirement, which started for tenancies beginning on or after 1 October 2015.
As of November 2016, the latest publication is still the one that reads Feb 2016 and may be found here. It would be wise to always make sure that there hasn’t been a new one issued before you begin a new tenancy.
4. Deposit Protection Certificate
If you rent your home on an assured shorthold tenancy that started after 6 April 2007 and have taken a deposit, you must protect it in one of the three government backed schemes within 30 days of receipt and serve the Prescribed Information (PI):
What is PI? It’s basically an explainer to the tenants on how the deposit has been protected.
There are custodial and insured schemes. From experience, we found that custodial scheme works best as it means that the deposit is physically not with us and therefore, tenants feel safer.
At the end of the tenancy, you must return it within 10 days of all the parties agreeing on how much you may withhold.
A good place to read more on this is at the Residential Landlord Association page.
5. Smoke Alarms
Newly in force from October 2015, you must provide a smoke alarm on each storey and a carbon monoxide alarm in rooms with a usable fireplace or woodburner.
The London Fire Brigade offers great information and are also offering free smoke alarms here.
If you are not eligible, we like FireAngel brand and you can get a convenient smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector set here for £33.59.
Your check-in inventory clerk should note that all devices are in working order but do check, as some don’t offer this service. In which case, you should test them in front of the tenants at check-in and have them sign that they have seen them in working order.